Saturday, July 24, 2004

I'M OFF TO GRONINGEN for the joint annual International Society of Biblical Literature meeting and annual meeting of the International Organization of Qumran Studies. I'm presenting a paper in each conference. I've already posted the IOQS paper (see here). The SBL paper is "Did Christians Write Old Testament Pseudepigrapha That Appear to Be Jewish?" the oral version of which you can read by following the link. As noted previously, it is a summary of chapter four of the book I'm writing.

We leave first thing tomorrow (Sunday) morning and should be back on the evening of the 29th. Blogging, if any, will depend on easy access to a computer or a Internet cafe, spare time, and my whim. Meanwhile, have a good week, and check out some of the ancient and biblical history blogs and news sites in the links bar to the right. If you are observing Tisha B'Av on the 26th-27th, I wish you an easy fast.
The time machine drops you onto the dusty streets of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. The year is 1211.

A few hundred yards ahead is a Romanesque cathedral, nearly complete after 100 years of construction. It seems to soar toward the heavens. The cathedral's grandeur befits one of Christianity's holiest sites, reportedly containing the remains of the apostle James the Great.


Goosebumps rise on your arm � and you haven't even left Los Angeles.

Which is the idea behind UCLA's Visualization Portal, a virtual reality theater that re-creates ancient worlds, natural phenomena such as tornados, and the inner workings of the human body � showing, for instance, a fibrillating heart and how experimental drugs might return its beat to normal.

The 3D re-creations are used for research, teaching, attracting grants and outreach to the public. Professors � with disciplines including architecture, chemistry, literature, atmospheric sciences, performing arts and astronomy � and technology experts have worked together to create various virtual realties.

More than 40 architectural computer models have been developed, many of them depicting ancient buildings and towns that allow viewers to virtually stroll down the streets, step inside a home or even fly over the walled cities.

Seated in a comfortable theater that holds about 40 people, you can peek into the 26 buildings and monuments of the Roman Forum in AD 400; study frescoes painted on a bedroom wall in a Pompeii villa in AD 79; and enter the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in AD 70, just before its destruction by Roman troops.


(L.A. Times: requires free registration)
EUGENE ULRICH will be speaking on the Dead Sea Scrolls at Newman University in Wichita, KS:
Professor to speak on Dead Sea Scrolls

A University of Notre Dame professor will speak on the impact of the Dead Sea Scrolls on the Bible at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 11 at Jabara Theater at Newman University.

Eugene Ulrich, professor of Hebrew Scripture and theology, will also give a slide presentation during his lecture.

The event, which is free, includes a reception afterward.

Friday, July 23, 2004

THE JOURNAL BIBLICA has a new issue out (85.3, 2004). The articles are available in HTML and PDF formats. Here is the table of contents with abstracts:

U. BERGES, �Der Zorn Gottes in der Prophetie und Poesie Israels auf dem Hintergrund altorientalischer Vorstellungen� , Vol. 85(2004) 305-330.

������� The theme of divine anger is not peripheral to Yhwh�s revelation of himself but central to it (cf. inter alia Exod 34,6-7). When the instances of Yhwh�s anger in the OT, particularly in the writing prophets and the Psalms are compared with instances of the anger of the gods in the ancient Near East, four categories can be distinguished: a) the anger that seeks to destroy mankind; b) the anger that intervenes in the destiny of peoples; c) the anger that destroys temple cities with their sanctuaries; d) the anger that plunges the individual into danger of death. The OT speaks of Yhwh�s anger on many different levels, which demands a portrayal that is much more nuanced than has been the case up to now and represents a continuing challenge, not least for the reflection of biblical theology.

Bernard P. ROBINSON, �The Story of Jephthah and his Daughter: Then and Now� , Vol. 85(2004) 331-348.
������� In Judges 11 Jephthah is an anti-hero, his rash vow and its implementation being for the Book of Judges symptoms of the defects of pre-monarchical Israel. The daughter is probably sacrificed; the alternative view, that she is consigned to perpetual virginity, has insufficient support in the text. The story speaks still to present-day readers, challenging them not to make ill-considered judgments that may have disastrous consequences; inviting them too to detect a divine purpose working through human beings in their failings as well as their strengths.

Thomas HIEKE, �Das Alte Testament und die Todesstrafe� , Vol. 85(2004) 349-374.
������� Rather than understanding the Old Testament sanction MWT YWMT ("he shall surely be put to death") as a death penalty edict, one should see it as a parenetic warning. Comparing the verses which contain mot yumat with the few references to death sentences and executions, it is to be doubted whether this condemnation was indeed applicable. The �death edicts� are therefore not �law,� but divine dicta functioning as deterrents. They formulate things that should not happen under any circumstances. Hence, they underscore the most important ethical and cultic maxims.

Gonzalo ROJAS-FLORES, �The Book of Revelation and the First Years of Nero�s Reign� , Vol. 85(2004) 375-392.
������� In this article I try to demonstrate that the Book of Revelation was written in the first years of Nero�s reign, because (a) there is an important patristic tradition in favor of Nero and (b) the internal evidence shows that the text was redacted after Nero�s ascension to the throne in 54 and before the earthquake of Laodicea in 60.


Jan LAMBRECHT, �The Line of Thought in Romans 7,15-20� , Vol. 85(2004) 393-398.

������� The parallelism between Romans 7,14-17 and 18-20 as it has recently been put forward by O. Hofius is critically examined. It would seem that within this text Paul�s reasoning progresses from vv. 14b-16 to 17-20. The thesis of v. 14b ("I am fleshly, sold into the slavery under sin") gives way to the more sophisticated pronouncement of v. 17 ("as a matter of fact it is not I that do the evil, but the indwelling sin"). Each time motivations follow, vv. 15 and 18-19; finally a conclusion is drawn, vv. 16 and 20.

Peter M. HEAD, �The Habits of New Testament Copyists. Singular Readings in the Early Fragmentary Papyri of John� , Vol. 85(2004) 399-408.
������� After an introduction that discusses the role that singular readings have played in the analysis of scribal habits, including an earlier study of synoptic gospel manuscripts by the same author, this study examines singular readings in the early fragmentary papyri of John�s Gospel. The study confirms earlier research showing that the most common singular readings concern spelling and that word order variations, word substitutions and harmonisations to context are also not uncommon. Omission of words is more common than addition.

Urban C. von WAHLDE, �He Has Given to the Son To Have Life in Himself (John 5,26)� , Vol. 85(2004) 409-412.
������� John 5,26 explains that Jesus is able to give life because the Father has given him "to have life in himself". While previously one could surmise the meaning of this special mode of possessing life, Wis 15,16-17 provides positive proof of the verse�s meaning in its comparison of the ways God and humans possess life.

Gershon GALIL, �The Chronological Framework of the Deuteronomistic History� , Vol. 85(2004) 413-421.
������� This article points out that the series of the minor judges were not included in the deuteronomistic edition of the Book of Judges, and therefore did not form part of the Dtr�s chronology. In the author�s opinion the Dtr constructs a chronological framework spanning 480 years from the Exodus to the establishment ofthe Temple (1Kgs 6,1) and correlates it with the chronological data in Deuteronomy�Samuel.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

JOURNAL CRISIS CORRECTION: Oh dear. It seems that the e-mail address that I gave on Tuesday for Jean-Marie Hombert, the director of the "Sciences humaines" department at the CNRS, was incorrect. I did not get an error message, but a few others did, prompting me to double check with Christophe Batsche. He writes:
Concerning the adress of Pr Hombert, I apologize for my mistake. The right one is:
(i.e. with a DOT between dir and fr)
An alternative, lessd personal is :
which leads to his assistant secretary.

I am afraid that if you wrote to Professor Hombert to protest the proposed cuts to funding of Revue de Qumran and Revue des �tudes Juives, your message did not get throught (which no doubt explains why he has not replied). Please resend. I am doing so now.

Apologies for the error.
THE FIRST-CENTURY SYNAGOGUE is the subject of an essay on the Bible and Interpretation website:
The Nature and Origins of the 1st-Century Synagogue

It is very likely that the institutions referred to as proseuchai in inscriptions dating from 3rd and 2nd century bce Egypt were, in fact, Jewish temples, and not synagogues as is commonly assumed.

By Anders Runesson
McMaster University, Canada
July 2004

We are wise to begin out search with the period when our sources first mention synagogue terms. This happens to be the 1st century bce and ce. Second, analyzing the literary, inscriptional, and archaeological material, we must determine what type(s) of institution is referred to by these terms in the sources and what activities were associated with these institutions. Each type of institution should be investigated separately.

Third, since many of the activities connected with the 1st-century synagogue were common to similar non-Jewish institutions, the search for the origins of the unique Jewish institution as we find it in the 1st-century need to focus on the most characteristic feature of the synagogue: the feature that made it stand out among other institutions.

Fourth, the origins of the synagogue are exposed when this characteristic feature is traced to its beginnings in a setting in which we also find the other activities associated with the later, 1st synagogue. Fifth and finally, an attempt must be made to explain why, where, and how this all came to be at the specific point in time when we found the beginnings of the distinctive feature of the 1st-century synagogue.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

IOQS PAPER: Next Tuesday at the International Organization of Qumran Studies conference, I'm scheduled to present a paper entitled "The Odes of Isaiah: A Newly Discovered Syriac Pseudepigraphon � A Thought Experiment." In the interval since the paper was accepted, it has taken a somewhat different turn and it now has a slightly different title and uses a different "newly discovered" document to make the points I want to make. I have now put it online, so, as a special perk only for PaleoJudaica readers (i.e., anyone who reads PaleoJudaica), you can read the oral-presentation version now. Look for my other paper, the one for the International SBL meeting, sometime on Saturday. (I leave for Groningen early Sunday morning.) Here is the slightly revised abstract of the IOQS piece, with a link to the paper itself:
The Apocalypse of Daniel: A Newly Discovered Syriac Pseudepigraphon - A Thought Experiment

Sorry, there isn't really a new pseudepigraphon called the Apocalypse of Daniel. Nor is this paper about the work with the same name published recently by Matthias Henze. Rather, this is a thought experiment to explore in a new way the problem of the transmission of Jewish Old Testament pseudepigrapha in Christian hands and how or to what degree we can hope to know whether such works actually originated in Jewish rather than Christian circles.

The approach is to treat demonstrably (mostly by external criteria) ancient Jewish works as if they had been transmitted as pseudepigrapha in Christian manuscripts, and to explore the implications of the "alternate histories" of these works as analogies for works whose transmission histories cannot now be reconstructed by conventional means. The method is informed by poststructuralist and reader-response concerns; the philosophy of counterfactuals and possible worlds; the exploration of counterfactual histories by science fiction writers and by historians; and some conceptual insights and categories formulated by the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum physics.

This paper postulates an "alternate history" for the Qumran War Scroll (as found in the manuscript 1QM) in which, rather than being abandoned at Qumran, this work was transmitted outside sectarian circles, translated first into Greek and then, into Syriac, thence surviving only in a late antique or early medieval Syriac copy attributed to the prophet Daniel. (One can point to the transmission of the Psalms of Solomon as a partial analogy.) To what degree could we show that this text was originally Jewish, and even sectarian Jewish? What literary-critical, prosodic, and linguistic criteria, if any, would be likely to be helpful in tracing its history of transmission and ultimate origin?

It opens:
This paper is a painfully brief summary of part of the third chapter of a monograph I am currently writing on the problem of Christian transmission of Jewish apocrypha and pseudepigrapha. You see from the handout that I have taken the liberty of changing the title, for reasons I will explain presently. If you were especially hoping to hear about a new Syriac Odes of Isaiah, I apologize for disappointing you. However, assuming you read my abstract or the online version of this paper before coming here, you will already know that there isn't really an Odes of Isaiah and I hope that you will be content instead with an equally imaginary Syriac Apocalypse of Daniel. I assure you that the overall arguments and their connections with the Dead Sea Scrolls remain essentially the same.

As always, feedback or comments are welcome. Do keep in mind that this is a 25 minute summary of a 161 MS-page chapter.

I have published summaries of other parts of the same book-in-progress online as I have presented them at various conferences. There are oral presentations of chapter one, chapter two, and a bit from chapter six. The International SBL paper will summarize chapter four. Please read them as very preliminary and provisional drafts. For more of my conference papers and online book reviews, see the relevant section of the links bar to the right.

UPDATE (24 July): More, including link to promised SBL paper, here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

JOURNAL CRISIS! Christophe Batsche, at the �cole Pratique des Hautes �tudes in Paris, e-mails:
The french CNRS (centralized administration for intellectual researches in France) is thinking to cut all financial credits to two major publications (at least, I hope, from our point of view) : the Revue de Qumran and the Revue des Etudes Juives. Since that suppression (which would probably mean the death of these two publications) is argumented by a biased system of reviewing quotations in international publications, perhaps could you ring the bell and ask our colleagues to send a few words to the director of the "Sciences humaines" department at the CNRS ?

email : Jean-Marie.Hombert@cnrs-dir-fr [see update below]

He adds:
There is currently a process of evaluation of human sciences reviews financially helped by the CNRS. Not a bad idea per se. You'll find all explanation (perhaps in english also, but I'm not sure) on the CNRS site :

The idea is to class all the reviews into three categories : 1. help maintained ; 2. help limited to electronic publication ; 3. help suppressed. The REJ falls in category 2 ; the RQu in category 3.

The evaluation is based on a system of quotations calculations in a number of international "references" reviews, which seems pretty objective and scientific. The problem is :

1) you can't avoid bias in the choice of the "reference" reviews. You dont get the same result whether you privilege history or linguistics. And, obviously, as French we certainly don't privilege religious studies area.

2) a review like RQu can have a real international diffusion and importance, but very few quotations, given the rather specialized field of knowledge it deals with.

I have sent the following e-mail to Professor Hombert:
Dear Professor Hombert,

I have just learned that the CNRS is considering cutting financial support to two critically important journals in Jewish studies: the Revue de Qumran and the Revue des �tudes Juives. These journals are mainstays of the field and it would be a great tragedy were they to be discontinued due to lack of funding. Revue des �tudes Juives is a venerable journal more than a century old which covers the whole range of the history, religion, literature, society, bibliography, and methodology of the study of Judaism. It has an international readership and range of contributors and its loss would leave a major gap in the academic study of Judaism and indeed in the field of Western history in general. Revue de Qumran is another international journal, which focuses on the Dead Sea Scrolls and is one of the major disseminators of scholarly information on the subject. Given the critical importance of the Scrolls for our understanding of the ancient history of Judaism, Christianity, the Bible, and religion in late antiquity, and also the widespread public interest in the Qumran discoveries, the cutting of this journal's funding would not only do great harm to all these academic fields, it would also send a very negative message to the public about the commitment of the CNRS to funding important work in the humanities.

All this being the case, I encourage you very strongly to resist any movement in the direction of cutting the funding of these journals.

I am posting this message on my weblog, Paleojudaica (address below in my signature), and also copying it to other specialists. If you have no objection, I would like to post your reply on the weblog as well.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

I will report back when I hear from him. In the meantime, if you are a specialist in ancient Judaism or biblical studies, you will already know how important these journals are. I encourage you to e-mail Professor Hombert to encourage the CNRS to continue funding. It is worthwhile to emphasize the international importance of these journals; their significance for the fields of history and linguistic study in general, not just religious history; and the public interest in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the negative publicity that would result from the loss of RevQ.

If you are a nonspecialist, but are interested enough in the field to be reading PaleoJudaica, I would be very grateful if you too would send Professor Hombert a note expressing concern over this news. You might describe your own interest in these fields and let him know that it would dismay you to see that the CNRS is considering cutting funding for these important resources that help scholars advance our knowledge in these areas.

Anyone is welcome to use my message or any part of it as a template if that would help. I trust it goes without saying that all messages should be polite, respectful, and to the point.


UPDATE: (22 July): The e-mail address given above for Professor Hombert is incorrect. For the correct one go here.
FRANK MOORE CROSS AND ELIE WIESEL are interviewed together and give their views on the Bible in the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review. The piece is not available online, but you can read a summary of it in this A.P. article:
Cultural titans share thoughts on Bible

Publication links Hebrew professor, Holocaust victim


They are titans in their respective fields who have taught within miles of each other. But they never met until a journalist brought them together to talk about the Bible.

The talkers were Frank Moore Cross, 82, the distinguished professor of Hebrew literature at Harvard University since 1957 (now emeritus); and Boston University's Elie Wiesel, 75, Holocaust survivor, author and winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize. Their chat was arranged by Hershel Shanks for the magazine he edits, Biblical Archaeology Review.

What attracts Wiesel to the Bible?

"I see history in it. I see revealed truth in it. I see in it human holiness as much as divine inspiration. Whenever you open it, any page, you know you are in the presence of something that exists nowhere else."

And Cross?

He said in the classroom and writings he takes a strictly "scientific" approach. "I attempt to deal with the Bible as I would with any work of literature," and to treat the history of Israel the same as that of England or China.

But along with that there's a private aspect Cross doesn't teach or write about publicly. "The Bible is a book that has shaped my life, my beliefs, my ethics, my moral concerns, my religious outlook."


As I think I've mentioned before, Frank Cross supervised my doctoral work.

UPDATE: Stephen Goranson has pointed me to the location of the BAR article online.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Israeli algorithms help you get your dates straight (Israel21c)
By Rava Eleasari July 19, 2004

The e-mail came from a Swede requesting that Tel Aviv University Professor Nachum Dershowitz look into the rules of the Samaritan calendar "since he was already there in Israel."

Thus began the latest odyssey of Dershowitz, a member of the School of Computer Science, Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences, in systemizing yet another of the world's dating systems - this time of a secretive, traditionalist religious sect of only 1,000 people that live in a radius of about 65 mile radius from the TAU campus.

To date, Dershowitz and his colleague Prof. Edward M. Reingold of the Illinois Institute of Technology, USA, have mathematically analyzed 25 of the world's calendars in the first and only project of its kind. They have provided equations and algorithms for quick and accurate calculation of dates within each system, as well as for conversion of dates between calendars.

The second edition of their book, Calendrical Calculations, encodes the rules for two dozen calendars in mathematical form, and describes how they relate to one another. Among the systems described are the Gregorian (in near universal use today), Islamic, Persian, Coptic, Baha'i, Hebrew, Mayan, Chinese, and modern Hindu. (


Clifford, Richard J.
Psalms 73-150
Reviewed by Beth La Neel Tanner

Clifford, Richard J.
Psalms 73-150
Reviewed by John Vassar

Creach, Jerome F. D.
Reviewed by Ed Noort

Fritz, Volkmar
Translated by Anselm Hagedorn
1 & 2 Kings
Reviewed by A. Graeme Auld

Loretz, Oswald
Psalmstudien: Kolometrie, Strophik und Theologie ausgew�hlter Psalmen
Reviewed by Manfred Oeming

Nam, Duck-Woo
Talking about God: Job 42:7-9 and the Nature of God in the Book of Job
Reviewed by Edward L. Greenstein

Potts, Timothy, Michael Roaf, and Diana Stein, eds.
Culture through Objects: Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Honour of P. R. S. Moorey
Reviewed by Beth Alpert Nakhai

Sweeney, Marvin A.
Reviewed by Mark Wade Hamilton

Carter, Warren
Pontius Pilate: Portraits of a Roman Governor
Reviewed by Richard Bautch

Mayer-Haas, Andrea J.
Geschenk aus Gottes Schatzkammer (bSchab 10b): Jesus und der Sabbat im Spiegel der neutestamentlichen Schriften
Reviewed by Russell Morton

Sunday, July 18, 2004


2004.07.36: �Warren C. Trenchard, A Concise Dictionary of New Testament Greek. Cambridge: 2003. Pp. xvii, 177. $15.00 (pb). ISBN 0-521-52111-4.
Reviewed by Rolando Ferri.

2004.06.42: �Tessa Rajak, The Jewish Dialogue with Greece and Rome. Studies in Cultural and Social Interaction. Leiden: 2002. Pp. 578. $53.00 (pb). ISBN 0-391-04133-9.
Reviewed by Chris Seeman.

Somehow I missed the second one, but Mark Goodacre caught it.
CRONACA has vanished too. When will this madness stop?

UPDATE (19 July): Cronaca is back. Still no sign of Phluzein.
SLOW NEWS DAY. But here's a column in the Florida Sun Sentinel about the biblical canon, by people who call themselves the "God Squad": "Torah is first five books of Bible". It's accurate as far as it goes, but if they're going to explain the arrangement of the biblical books in different canons, they really should also mention the Old Testament Apocrypha or deuterocanonical books, which are part of the Catholic canon. (But note that 2 Esdras and 3-4 Maccabees are not part of this canon even though 2 Edsdras always and the others often are listed in the Apocrypha.) The Orthodox canon is roughly the same as the Catholic canon, but at least sometimes it includes 3 Maccabees. And it gets still more complicated: for example the OT canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church includes 1 Enoch and Jubilees.